The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Illinois Punts on Pension Reform

Illinois has finally taken the first halting steps toward resolving its pension crisis. On Wednesday the Illinois Senate passed a measure to reform teachers’ pensions, to the tune of $18–40 billion in savings over the next three decades, as Reuters reports.

The bill doesn’t amount to full fiscal health, of course, and it came only after the Senate voted down a much broader measure that would have affected all state workers’ pensions. That bill would have saved the state an estimated $150 billion. With current debt at $97 billion, this is a significant difference, for which the state media is currently raking them over the coals.

Although legislators in Springfield are doubtless patting themselves on the back for a job well done, it will take much more than this if the state wants to seriously address the pensions that are burning a hole through the treasury. And now that the low-hanging fruit has been picked, the reform effort is about to get much more difficult. Illinois isn’t out of the woods yet.

Published on March 22, 2013 6:00 pm